Georgia's Housing Success Stories
A Closer Look at the 2004 Magnolia Awards Winners and Finalists
Affordable Rental Housing
Magnolia Circle Apartments - 2004 WINNER
Initiative for Affordable Housing, Inc. developed Magnolia Circle
Apartments as an affordable housing option for DeKalb County seniors
62 and older. The $7.9 million development consists of 84 one-
and two-bedroom ground-level apartments, with 80 percent leased
as affordable units and 20 percent leased at market rate. Residents
have access to a community building with a fitness center and
activity rooms, a community garden with individual plots available,
and Georgia's first certified multi-family property Wildlife Preserve/Bird
Sanctuary. Case managers are available to help coordinate services such as Meals on Wheels
Regular activities both on- and off-site encourage
As the first EarthCraft-certified multi-family property in the
country, Magnolia Circle Apartments was constructed with special
features that lessen the project's impact on the environment.
Features include fresh air intakes, low Volatile Organic Compounds
(VOCs) and recycled content building products. The development
is also certified as Energy Star, a program that requires it to
be 30 percent more energy efficient than a typical project. These
features not only reduce utility bills at the complex, but they
also create a cleaner, healthier environment for residents.
South Rossville Senior Village Apartments
The City of Rossville's need for quality affordable housing for
its senior citizens was addressed and an abandoned elementary
school was reclaimed when Olympia Construction created the South
Rossville Senior Village in 2003. The former South Rossville Elementary
School, constructed in 1923, was renovated, and two new buildings
were added to create 60 one- and two-bedroom affordable rental
units for the community's low- and median-income seniors. The
development includes a community room with kitchen, an arts-and-crafts
room, two libraries, exercise facilities, walking trails, and
a putting green. The $6.5 million project was financed through
the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and private funds.
Renovating the dilapidated South Rossville Elementary School revitalized
a part of the community. Many of the senior residents once attended
or taught school there, giving them an extra attachment to the
building. The project is considered a strong example of implementing
adaptive reuse to fulfill housing needs in a community.
The Pines at Willowbrook
The Pines at Willowbrook is an 80-unit apartment community developed
by the Ansley Housing Partners as an affordable housing option
in Hinesville near the Fort Stewart military base. The property
consists of five apartment buildings of 16 units each and one
community building. The mixed-income property leases 80 percent
of the units to low-income households, with the remaining 20 percent
of the units offered at market rates. Located in a family-oriented
community, the complex includes 24 three-bedroom units, which
were previously lacking in the area. Residents of the Pines at
Willowbrook have access to the community building with meeting
space, an exercise room and a business center with computers.
A picnic area and tot lot provide recreational opportunities outdoors.
The Pines has set a new standard for apartments in Liberty County.
Ansley Housing Partners and partner Apollo Housing Capital, LLC,
financed the project through Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Permanent
financing will be provided by the Community Development Trust
and Chase National Bank. The development's success is evident
in the leasing rate lease-up began in September 2003, and
it was 97 percent leased by December 2003. It has maintained full
occupancy, with a three- to six-month waiting list. Families from
as far away as Hawaii have called inquiring about the availability
of these apartments.
Countryside Cottages/EasyLiving Homecm
EasyLiving Homecm is a voluntary certification program developed
by a coalition of public and private organizations to encourage
the inclusion of key features that make a home cost effective,
accessible and convenient for everyone, no matter their age, size
or physical ability. These features are incorporated without sacrificing
style or adding substantial construction costs and include components
such as step-free entrances and larger doorways. Countryside Villas,
built by Countryside Cottages, LLC, in Woodstock, is a community
of 44 homes that meet the EasyLiving Home certification requirements.
Additional EasyLiving homes are located throughout the state.
The EasyLiving Home coalition, which developed the concept in
1999, includes representatives from: AARP Georgia, Atlanta Regional
Commission, Concrete Change, Easter Seals-Southern Georgia, Fannie
Mae Atlanta Partnership Office, Georgia Department of Community
Affairs, Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, Home
Builders Association of Georgia, Shepherd Center, Statewide Independent
Living Council of Georgia and Universal Design Alliance.
Property Acquisition for Neighborhood Revitalization
Model - 2004 CO-WINNER
Entering an agreement in which the Macon-Bibb County Land
Bank Authority (LBA) serves as the Macon Housing Authority's (MHA)
agent for property acquisition matters gave the two agencies the
ability to partner with other organizations for extensive inner-city
neighborhood redevelopment. Past revitalization efforts had been
sporadic with limited success. The new agreement allowed MHA to
make full use of its eminent domain powers and purchase enough
property in critical areas to make a transforming difference.
Working with its affiliated non-profit organization, In-Fill Housing,
Inc., and other local non-profit organizations, the MHA and LBA
have been involved in the construction/rehabilitation and sale
of 81 single-family homes. Up to 100 additional homes are under
construction or planned in targeted areas.
Organizations involved in the redevelopment efforts include: MHA;
LBA; City of Macon, Economic and Community Development Department;
In-Fill Housing, Inc.; Renaissance Housing Partnership, Inc.;
CORE Revitalization, Inc.; Historic Macon Foundation; Habitat
for Humanity; Mercer University; Beall's Hill Development Corporation;
James, Bates, Pope & Spivey, L.P.; and Harris & James.
Southwest Georgia Housing Task Force - 2004 CO-WINNER
With representatives from 16 organizations, the Southwest Georgia
Housing Task Force focuses on education as a key to solving and
preventing housing problems in the 14-county region. Its membership
includes local, regional and state government representatives;
housing providers; banks; high schools; and concerned citizens.
The Task Force developed and sponsored a high school financial
education course, on-site housing fairs for businesses, first-time
home buyer education seminars and regional housing leadership
workshops. The group has published case studies, housing/homeless
resource booklets, and publications on workforce housing and credit/money
management. Working through the Southwest Georgia Regional Development
Center, the Task Force also developed design guidelines for manufactured
housing in-fill in historic neighborhoods and conducted housing
needs assessments and rental inventories for two local governments.
The Task Force is currently working on a regional housing website
to provide housing resource information to citizens and social
service organizations in the area.
Partners include: Southwest Georgia Regional Development Center,
Habitat for Humanity, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bullard
Variety, Camilla Chamber of Commerce, City of Pelham, Albany Community
Development, WIA, Seminole Training, Southwest Georgia CAC, Georgia
Department of Community Affairs, City of Moultrie, Pelham City
Schools, Consumer Credit Counseling and Arlington Housing Authority.
Homeownership Made Easy (H.O.M.E.) Programs
The Green Forest Community Development Corporation (CDC) is a
private non-profit faith-based community economic development
corporation that supports homeownership in DeKalb County through
educational and lending programs. Green Forest CDC is the lead
agency of the Expanding the Dream® DeKalb initiative, which
is their Homeownership Made Easy (H.O.M.E.) home buyer education-counseling
program. Developed by Freddie Mac, H.O.M.E. provides pre-purchase
counseling, loss mitigation and default/delinquency counseling.
Green Forest CDC includes extensive financial literacy counseling
through Freddie Mac's "CreditSmart" curriculum as well.
To combat predatory lending, Green Forest CDC is serving as a
leader on the Development Team of the "Don't Borrow Trouble
Metro Atlanta" initiative.
Green Forest CDC also provides on-line lending for minority families.
The CDC is part of a comprehensive $25 million faith-based housing
effort uniting them with South DeKalb Church Federal Credit Union;
six area churches; mortgage lender Taylor, Bean & Whitaker;
and Freddie Mac. Called "Catch the Dream DeKalb," the
program provides accessible low down payment mortgage products
to the 40,000 members of six churches.
Jimmy Carter Work Project 2003 - 2004 WINNER
During the week of June 6-13, 2003, the City of Valdosta and many
community partners built 25 Habitat for Humanity homes as part
of the 2003 Jimmy Carter Work Project. The City's long-standing
relationship with Habitat for Humanity and its designation as
a 21st Century Challenge Community with a goal of eliminating
substandard housing within the city by the year 2020 helped in
its effort to become one of three Work Project sites selected
in 2003. The project cost a total of $4.7 million, with $2.9 million
coming from the donation of land and sponsorships, $1.1 million
funded through CHIP and CDBG, and about $700,000 contributed by
First-time, low-income buyers purchased the 25 homes built during
the Jimmy Carter Work Project, becoming the first homeowners in
the newly created Northside Place Subdivision. An additional 14
homes have been constructed in the neighborhood since the construction
blitz, and six more units are underway. When Northside Place is
completed, the City of Valdosta will have partnered with Habitat
for Humanity on the construction of 74 homes.
Woodland Oaks Subdivision
Woodland Oaks Subdivision grew from a partnership between the
City of Albany, Dougherty County and Flint River Habitat for Humanity.
The City and County donated 67 lots and provided the community's
infrastructure, including roads, curbs, gutters and streetlights.
Leveraging donations from individuals, corporations, churches
and civic groups with many hours of volunteer labor, Flint River
Habitat for Humanity created a neighborhood of tree-lined streets
and beautiful homes. Work on Woodland Oaks began in 1998, and
48 homes have been completed for first-time, low-income buyers
at an estimated cost of $2.4 million. The varied home designs
showcase and preserve the surrounding environment, including numerous
Though not yet completed, Woodland Oaks is already a strong community
with an active Homeowner's Association. Neighbors enjoy cookouts
together, and Lowe's of Albany offers weekly classes on topics
of interest to homeowners, such as pest control and home repair.
The City of Albany is building a park in Woodland Oaks to provide
a neighborhood gathering place.
Columbia Citihomes Apartments - 2004 WINNER
Columbia Residential placed Columbia Citihomes Apartments in an
emerging Atlanta community where an active neighborhood organization
resisted typical apartments that might decrease property values.
The company's response was to design an affordable apartment community
that met neighborhood desires aesthetically, but also considered
the safety and comfort of future residents. The finished buildings
look like large homes that have always been a part of the larger
community. The complex is fenced and gated, but the buildings
are arranged to face the street so neighbors do not feel excluded
by high walls. Many large trees were saved and more planted to
preserve the environment of the neighborhood. The main drive entering
the complex gives the appearance of a residential street.
For residents, Columbia Citihomes Apartments were designed to
make parking and exterior entries secure, with individual or nearly
individual exterior entries and small parking bays near exterior
doors. The 84 two-bedroom apartments feature many desirable details,
such as columns separating living and dining areas, large dining
rooms, and extensive windows. Amenities include a picnic area
and clubhouse with fitness and laundry centers.
Crogman School Apartments
The Atlanta Development Authority transformed the Crogman School,
built in 1923, into a 105-unit affordable apartment complex, spurring
redevelopment in the entire Pittsburgh community. The dilapidated
building, abandoned for two decades, was a center for crime and
slated for demolition when the Authority purchased it from the
school system. The existing Arts and Crafts-style brick building
was adapted and restored to comply with the Department of the
Interior's Guidelines for Historic Preservation. The one-, two-
and three-bedroom apartments have large windows and spacious rooms
with 12-foot ceilings. Because they were built into an existing
building, the layout of each apartment is unique. A new three-story
building was added to the rear of the school, creating a large
public courtyard between the two structures. Its garden-style
apartments have balconies, and the brick trim of the façade
complements the brick on the Crogman School building.
Because the Crogman School is a historic property, the Atlanta
Development Authority financed much of the reconstruction using
historic tax credits. Tax exempt bonds and low income housing
tax credits also helped fund the $10.5 million project.
The Atlanta Habitat for Humanity Design Project
While Atlanta Habitat for Humanity builds quality, affordable
homes (under $100,000), the organization also seeks to integrate
those homes into individual communities using neighborhood-appropriate
designs. Because Atlanta Habitat uses a systemized process for
construction, matching the distinct styles of Atlanta neighborhoods
poses a challenge, but it is a challenge Habitat feels compelled
to meet. In the South Atlanta community and the Adair Park historic
district, each Atlanta Habitat home is built with specific technical,
structural and decorative elements according to agreements within
those neighborhoods. Homes may include a side or back landing,
a spacious porch, special columns, decorative brackets, or exposed
rafters. For example, in South Atlanta, each house is painted
at least three exterior colors. In both communities, the pitch
of the roof on each home is adjusted to match neighboring homes.
Even with the variations, Atlanta Habitat maintains affordability.
Basic elements are still mass-produced, and unskilled volunteers
construct many of the new elements through a systemized, supervised
construction process. By building attractive, interesting houses
that intermingle with existing homes, Atlanta Habitat builds neighborhood
pride and a strong sense of ownership.
Daniel-Flagg Villas of the Phoenix Project - 2004
Daniel-Flagg Villas is a permanent housing community for persons
living with HIV/AIDS and their family members. The 10-unit community
includes one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, two of which
are handicapped accessible, and they are leased at an affordable
rate according to each occupant's income. Daniel-Flagg Villas
allows clients who were once in a state of chronic homelessness
to live in safe, decent, affordable housing across the street
from the social services of the nearby Phoenix Project. These
services include HIV/AIDS healthcare assessment and treatment,
peer education, resource coordination, support groups, and substance
abuse treatment among others. Residents work with a case manager
to develop an Individualized Service Plan that will guide them
into independent living.
Savannah's Union Mission, Inc. created Daniel-Flagg Villas in
2003 by renovating historic railroad cottages. The renovation
cost $789,250 and was financed through grants provided by the
Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the U.S. Department
of Housing Urban Development. The project is a collaboration of
Union Mission, Inc., City of Savannah, Georgia Department of Community
Affairs, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rainbow Village, Inc. provides transitional housing for North
Metro Atlanta families in domestic or economic crisis. Rainbow
Village places families in one of 14 homes in Norcross, Duluth
or Snellville. Families do not pay rent, but they are required
to deposit money into a savings account to pay outstanding debts,
contribute to utility expenses and save for the future. Each family
works with a case manager to establish goals. Additionally, families
can take advantage of programs at the Rainbow Village Family Life
Center, where support groups and life skills training classes
help clients regain self-sufficiency. While parents are in training,
children can participate in "Big Recess," where they
receive a light meal, homework help and play time. An after-school
program provides a home-like environment where children can cultivate
social skills and study.
Since 1991, more than 100 families have graduated from Rainbow
Village's program. Some have purchased their first homes, and
75 percent have worked toward their General Equivalency Diploma
(GED) or a degree of higher education.
Therapeutic Group Homes, CHRIS Kids, Inc.
CHRIS Kids, Inc. operates nine family-like therapeutic group homes
for children aged 6-17, offering them mental health treatment
for severe emotional behavioral problems stemming from abuse and
neglect. The children have experienced an average of 10 failed
foster home placements and are an average of two years below grade
level academically. The therapeutic group homes, located in residential
neighborhoods in Clayton, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton and Gwinnett
counties, provide family-like settings to help children adapt
to life in a "normal" family. The experience increases
their chances of living successfully with a parent or an adopted,
foster or extended family after they leave. It also helps break
the cycle of abuse by giving them positive interactions with adults.
While living in a CHRIS home, children attend public schools and
participate in extracurricular activities.
In 2003, CHRIS served 101 children in therapeutic group homes
with an average stay of 15 months. On CAFAS scales, which reflect
a child's ability to function, children who are in CHRIS homes
show a 55 percent improvement in function after 12 months.
Local Government Initiatives
City of Savannah Neighborhood Revitalization Model
Utilizing the State of Georgia Urban Redevelopment Law, the City
of Savannah undertook the revitalization of the Cuyler-Brownsville
historic neighborhood to create a model for neighborhood revitalization.
Key components included the use of eminent domain to acquire 125
vacant properties; commitment to capital improvements; the planning
for, facilitation and financing of both owner-occupied housing
and rental development; and assistance with owner-occupied housing
repairs. Capital improvements included the construction of a Savannah-style
square in the neighborhood, the reinstallation of a historic brick
street, and the installation of sidewalks and historic streetlights.
The City helped finance the construction of 39 new architecturally
compatible and durable single-family homes and the adaptive reuse
of the historic Charity Hospital and Florance Street Elementary
School into 88 affordable apartments. Additionally, the City provided
home repair grants and loans to existing homeowners for exterior
and site improvements. The City leveraged approximately $4.2 million
of public funds with $17.9 million in private investment for the
$22.1 million project.
Using the lessons gleaned from the Cuyler-Brownsville experience,
the City developed and approved Mini-Urban Redevelopment Plans
(MURPs) for targeted areas within two larger neighborhoods. The
City has committed to approving two or three MURPs each year.
Spring Chase II Apartments
The Housing Authority of the County of DeKalb identified a need
for more affordable rental housing for seniors aged 55 and over.
Using land already owned by the County and adjacent to another
Housing Authority project, the Authority developed Spring Chase
II Apartments, a complex with 81 one- and two-bedroom apartments.
The four-story building also contains community space such as
seating/gathering areas, solariums and common activity space.
The adjacent support facility has two large areas for resident
activities, an exercise facility and staff offices. A Community
Center features an on-site library and computer center. The units
themselves have French doors that open to patios or balconies,
bay windows, and handicapped accessible bathrooms.
Construction of the facility cost about $5 million and was funded
through the Authority, HOME and CDBG grants, and private financing.
The facility includes 40 Section 8 units, and rents will not exceed
HOME rents for the Metro Atlanta area. Seniors at or below 80
percent of the AMI will occupy a minimum of 51 percent of the
Statesboro Pointe Subdivision Housing Partnership
- 2004 WINNER
The City of Statesboro developed Statesboro Pointe Subdivision
to provide affordable owner-occupied housing for low-to-moderate
income residents. The development transformed overgrown vacant
property into a neighborhood with 25 lots, sidewalks, decorative
streetlights, and public and private underground utilities. Using
CHIP funds, the City constructed four narrow lot homes on the
property. Despite strong marketing efforts, finding buyers who
qualified for mortgages through traditional lenders proved difficult,
and the City was hesitant to construct additional homes. Habitat
for Humanity of Bulloch County already had families waiting for
homes but needed land for construction, so the two entities formed
a partnership. The City donated three lots to Habitat to re-start
the Statesboro Pointe project, with plans for Habitat to purchase
the additional lots. The City of Statesboro/Bulloch County Landbank
Authority was formed to handle the sale of land. The City will
continue involvement in the neighborhood development by providing
a $15,000 loan for upfront costs on the construction of each remaining
Six families now live in Statesboro Pointe, two in homes built
by Habitat for Humanity and four in homes built by the City. All
homes follow narrow-lot plans designed specifically for the community.
The project cost an estimated $626,000, with most coming from
CDBG and CHIP grants and the remaining dollars made available
from the City's general fund.
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